Freezing temperatures didn’t stop community members from visiting some of the pavilions on opening night of the 10th annual Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival Thursday evening.
The festival, which runs until Saturday, features 13 pavilions, including Brazilian, Colombian, Salvadoran, English, First Nations, German, Irish, Mauritius, Métis, Scottish and Ukrainian.
While each pavilion offers an arrangement of eclectic and traditional dishes, entertainment and drinks, they’re also giving Brandonites the opportunity to experience a new culture and travel around the world, without having to leave the Wheat City.
Aside from the live entertainment, the focus of the Salvadoran pavilion is on delicious traditional Salvadoran dishes, including pupusas, a crowd favourite.
Pupusas are made of thick homemade corn tortilla filled with a blend of cheese and cooked pork meat that are served with rice and a spicy dipping sauce to add a little kick that’s sure to warm you up.
"That’s what people seem to like the most so we wanted to dedicate more time to the making of all the ingredients of it," said Jackie Rodriguez, master of ceremonies at the Salvadoran pavilion.
While taking in one of the many live shows, happening each hour throughout the evening and all day Saturday, Joiri Gibb and her sister Caelin were grabbing some dinner at the pavilion with their grandparents Friday night.
"The food is really good and it’s different, something I’ve never tried," Joiri said while munching on a traditional Salvadoran dish. "I’ve been coming to pavilions since I was really young and we’re glad we stopped in here."
Joiri and her sister also took in the first show of the evening and watched a live band and dancers perform. Being musicians themselves, Joiri plays the flute, piano and guitar, while Caelin sings, they enjoyed the entertainment.
"I like to experience different cultures and try different foods," Caelin said. "The music is really good."
The Salvadoran pavilion is located inside the Knox United Church, 451 - 18th St. and is open Friday 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
While other pavilions focus is on food, drink and entertainment, the Global Village pavilion is all about unity.
"We wanted to include as many countries and ethnic groups as we could, a lot of them were invited and several did commit and came in so we’re working together," said Marilyn Walton, member of the Icelandic Canadian Club of Western Manitoba and one of the event organizers.
Due to a low number of interested volunteers this year, the usual Icelandic pavilion was turned into the Global Village pavilion so that they could join forces with an arrangement of other cultural groups. The Global Village pavilion is also a unique feature of the festivals 10th year anniversary.
"It’s been really nice because we’ve all been working really well together," Walton said.
Although the pavilion unites and showcases Egypt, Costa Rica, Kenya and Chile, there is still a large focus on the Icelandic community.
"There will be continuous entertainment throughout the weekend including a viking mock battle on the stage on Saturday afternoon and evening and also there’s a young Icelander from a university in Edmonton coming to sing on Saturday so that’s sort of our focus," Walton said.
Traditional Costa Rican cuisine, an assortment of Icelandic desserts, Turkish coffee along with early pioneer coffee known as "sock coffee" that is brewed through a sock, are being served all weekend.
The Global Village pavilion is located inside St. Matthew’s Anglican Cathedral, 403 - 13th St., and is open until 11 p.m. on Saturday.
For those looking to wet their whistles and keep warm in a more unconventional sense, visiting the 007 martini bar or trying some imported brew at the English pavilion would be one fine way of tapping off an evening.
They are also one of the few pavilions open until 12:30 a.m. on Friday and 1 a.m. on Saturday.
"We’re the late pavilion," said Mo Karrouze, chair of the Westman English Society. "It’s just a big cultural event and we like to mix it up a bit with live bands including Until Red for the first time this year, a Beetles cover band and Adele covers."
At the English pavilion you can expect to try some imported English beers, a martini for every 007 movie ever made along with some traditional stew, steak and kidney pies along with traditional bangers and mash.
Last year the pavilion attracted over 3,000 visitors and for the 10th anniversary volunteers are expecting about the same turnout.
"We usually have about the same every year because it’s not one the biggest holes but once people get in they usually stay," Karrouze said.
Jaennalisa Pavlin chose to visit the English pavilion for the first time this year on opening night and was really enjoying it, despite the fact that she couldn’t try any of the food.
"I’m a vegetarian," she said while tasting some imported candy. "I’ve never been to this pavilion before so we wanted to come out and see it and I'm really enjoying it."
The English pavilion is located inside the ANAF Hall, 31 - 14th St., and is open Friday 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.
While only a small island nation east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Winter Festival goers will feel the big love of the Mauritian people at the nation’s pavilion located at the Knight’s Inn.
"It’s very easy going and they’re such caring and giving people," said festival goer Connie McClain.
With the drums pumping island music, dancers took the stage to perform traditional sega dances.
"It’s a cultural dance," pavilion organizer Kumar Hurrydass said. "We would do it at a party or celebration."
Two authentic Mauritian bands will take the stage throughout the weekend, combining sega and reggae into "seggae."
Now in its third year, Hurrydass said the pavilion has grown and evolved since it’s inception, beginning in the Global Pavilion its first year. The group has worked hard to bring the diverse food, music and culture of the island.
"The food is so diverse and everyone should try it," Hurrydass said, adding that the food is influenced by east asian culture and spices.
And it wouldn’t be a Mauritian pavilion without a dodo bird.
The bird represents a point of pride for the island and is featured on the nation’s currency — all information that can be learned on the pavilion’s cultural education board.
"Nobody else in the world has it," Kerslin Fumier said.
» Brandon Sun